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The Dover Anthology of American Literature, Volume I: From the Origins Through the Civil War

The Dover Anthology of American Literature, Volume I: From the Origins Through the Civil War

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The Dover Anthology of American Literature, Volume I: From the Origins Through the Civil War

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Sep 15, 2014


"This is a fantastic compilation of some really important pieces of American Literature. If you are a college student or even a motivated high school student, you will definitely want this on your bookshelf. Most importantly though, if you are someone who just genuinely enjoys reading and would like to expand your repertoire to some of the best in American literature, this is the book for you!" — Old Musty Books
Ranging from colonial times to the mid-19th century, this compact and inexpensive anthology offers a fascinating overview of early American literature. The authoritative texts are supplemented with informative introductory notes and suggestions for further reading.
Starting with Cherokee creation myths and Powhatan's moving speech, "Why Should You Destroy Us, Who Have Provided You with Food," the 18th-century selections include the writings of poets Anne Bradstreet and Phillis Wheatley; preacher Jonathan Edwards; statesmen Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and others. From the early and mid-19th century come excerpts from the journals of Lewis and Clark; stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, and Louisa May Alcott; the poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Walt Whitman; and essays, speeches, verse, and memoirs by other prominent Americans.

Sep 15, 2014

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The Dover Anthology of American Literature, Volume I - Dover Publications

The Dover Anthology of American Literature

Volume I

From the Origins Through the Civil War



Mineola, New York





Copyright © 2014 by Dover Publications, Inc.

All rights reserved.

Bibliographical Note

The Dover Anthology of American Literature, Volume I: From the Origins Through the Civil War, first published by Dover Publications, Inc., in 2014, is a new anthology reprinted from standard sources. For the sake of authenticity, inconsistencies in spelling and punctuation have been retained in the texts unless otherwise indicated.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

The Dover Anthology of American Literature, Volume I : From the Origins Through the Civil War / edited by Bob Blaisdell.

pages cm. — (Dover Thrift Editions)

Summary: Ranging from colonial times to the mid-nineteenth century, this compact and inexpensive anthology offers a fascinating overview of early American literature. The authoritative texts are supplemented with informative introductory notes and suggestions for further reading. Starting with Cherokee creation myths and Powhatan’s moving speech, Why Should You Destroy Us, Who Have Provided You with Food, the eighteenth-century selections include the writings of poets Anne Bradstreet and Phillis Wheatley; preacher Jonathan Edwards; statesmen Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and others. From the early and mid-nineteenth century come excerpts from the journals of Lewis and Clark; stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, and Louisa May Alcott; the poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Walt Whitman; and essays, speeches, verse, and memoirs by other prominent Americans— Provided by publisher.

Includes bibliographical references.

ISBN-13: 978-0-486-78076-4 (paperback) — ISBN-10: 0-486-78076-7

1. American literature. I. Blaisdell, Robert, editor of compilation.

PS507.D68 2014



Manufactured in the United States by Courier Corporation

78076701 2014




Cherokee Creation Stories (James Mooney)

How the World Was Made (1897–1898)

The First Fire (1897–1898)


Why Should You Destroy Us, Who Have Provided You with Food? (c. 1609)

Anne Bradstreet

The Author to her Book (1650)

To my Dear and loving Husband (1650)

Before the Birth of one of her Children (1650)

Upon a Fit of Sickness, Anno. 1632. Aetatis suae, 19 (1650)

To the Memory of my dear and ever honoured Father Thomas Dudley Esq; Who deceased, July 31, 1653. and of his Age, 77 (1650)

In memory of my dear grand-child Anne Bradstreet. Who deceased June 20. 1669. being three years and seven Moneths old (1650)

To my Dear Children (1650)

In my Solitary houres in my dear husband his Absence (1650)

As weary pilgrim, now at rest (1650)

The Prologue [to The Tenth Muse] (1650)

Benjamin Franklin

An Apology for Printers (1731)

From Poor Richard’s Almanack (1733–1758)

Excerpts from Autobiography (Arriving at moral perfection) (1793)

Jonathan Edwards

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God (1741)

Phillis Wheatley

On Being Brought from Africa to America (1773)

On Imagination (1773)

To S. M., A Young African Painter, On Seeing His Works (1773)

Thomas Paine

From Common Sense (1776)

J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur

Letters from an American Farmer : Letter III: What Is an American (1782)

Sarah Wentworth Morton

The African Chief (1792)

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark

From Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806)

Red Jacket, Sagoyewatha

You Have Got Our Country, but Are Not Satisfied (1805)

We Are Determined Not to Sell Our Lands (1811)


We All Belong to One Family (1811)

Father!—Listen to Your Children! (1813)

Washington Irving

Rip Van Winkle: A Posthumous Tale of Diedrich Knickerbocker (1819–1820)

James Fenimore Cooper

Chapters 3, 17, 29 and 32 from The Last of the Mohicans (1826)

Catharine Maria Sedgwick

Chapters 4–5 (Vol. 1) from Hope Leslie; or Early Times in Massachusetts (1827)

William Lloyd Garrison

To the Public (1831)

Black Hawk

Farewell to Black Hawk (1832)

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Young Goodman Brown (1835)

Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment (1837)

Chapters 5–6 from The Scarlet Letter (1850)

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nature (1836)

Self-Reliance (1841)

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A Psalm of Life (1838)

The Wreck of the Hesperus (1839)

Beware! (1839)

The Rainy Day (1841)

The Slave’s Dream (1842)

The Day Is Done (1844)

The Arrow and the Song (1845)

The Ladder of Saint Augustine (1850)

The Children’s Hour (1859)

Paul Revere’s Ride (1860)

Killed at the Ford (1866)

Edgar Allan Poe

William Wilson (1839)

The Tell-Tale Heart (1843)

The Raven (1845–1849)

Annabel Lee (1849–1850)

Frederick Douglass

Chapters 6–7 from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Written by Himself (1845)

Margaret Fuller

Educate Men and Women as Souls (c. 1845)

Woman in Poverty (1846)

Francis Parkman

The Oregon Trail: The Buffalo Camp (1848)

Henry David Thoreau

Civil Disobedience (1849)

From Walden, or Life in the Woods (1854)

Herman Melville

Chapters 1, 10–12, 28, 36, 41, 65–66, 87, 110, 128, 133–135 from Moby-Dick (1851)

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Chapters 7–8 of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852)

Walt Whitman

From Leaves of Grass (1855)

The Wound-Dresser (1865)

Cavalry Crossing a Ford (1865)

A March in the Ranks Hard-Prest, and the Road Unknown (1865)

A Sight in Camp in the Day-Break Grey and Dim (1865)

Not Youth Pertains to Me (1865)

O Captain! My Captain! (1865)

P. T. Barnum

The American Museum (Chapter 9) from The Life of P. T. Barnum Written by Himself (1855)

John Greenleaf Whittier

Brown of Ossawatomie (1859)

Ein Feste Burg Ist Unser Gott (Luther’s Hymn) (1861)

Barbara Frietchie (1863)

Harriet A. Jacobs

From Chapters 17–18, 20–21, 29–31, 40 in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)

Julia Ward Howe

Battle Hymn of the Republic (1862)

Louisa May Alcott

Obtaining Supplies (1863)

A Day (1863)

Abraham Lincoln

First Debate with Senator Stephen A. Douglas (Ottawa, Illinois, August 21, 1858)

Letter: To Jesse W. Fell (December 20, 1859)

Meditation on the Divine Will (c. September 2, 1862)

Letter: To James C. Conkling (August 26, 1863)

Gettysburg Address (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863)

Second Inaugural Address (March 4, 1865)

Index of Authors


. . . all this to explain, would be to dive deeper than Ishmael can go.





, M






as a whirlwind tour of American literature. We don’t make all the stops, but we bring you to numerous classics and several out-of-the-way marvels of American writing. We have taken literature to include not just poetry and fiction but essays, letters, journals, memoirs and autobiography, as well as historical documents and speeches. The American voice is particularly unbound by genre and is usually distinct wherever it is heard. If your experience of these pieces tempts you to make a return journey to particular authors or works or genres, we will have accomplished our primary goal.

Had America’s most famous poet, Walt Whitman, guest-edited this anthology, he could have sung a celebration of the tremendous variety encountered on this literary tour: from the forceful statements of the seventeenth-century tribal leader Powhatan to the modest but muscular and careful sentences of our greatest president, Abraham Lincoln; he could have evoked simultaneously an appreciation of the practical and humorous writings of Benjamin Franklin and the poignant memories of Frederick Douglass. In this brief introductory note, Whitman could have described the rich clamor of such disparate voices as Edgar Allan Poe’s and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s, the one with his dramatic, twisted phrasings depicting psychological torture, and the other with her passionate and inspired narrative that helped America finally undermine its immoral peculiar institution of slavery. Whitman could have done justice to the preachers—the American literary tradition is a preaching tradition! Jonathan Edwards, Phillis Wheatley, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Red Jacket had the ringing voices of prophets, though only Edwards did the majority of his preaching from a pulpit. The others spoke for themselves, representing not God but the Individual American Spirit. The variety of these literary voices is a chorus, and we can’t help but wish that Whitman were here to draw out and show off the strengths of the All as well as of the Soloists.

On our own, unaccompanied by the electrifying soul of Whitman, we must settle for a short explanation of our method of presentation. We have relied on our sense of the works and authors whose fame has endured into or revived in the twenty-first century. The several excerpts from novels drive themselves and can but needn’t stand alone; those that captivate in a sampling must be pursued in full (all of the novels and many of the nonfiction works are available in complete Dover editions). We have gone light on the notes, trusting and hoping that the materials in themselves will provide enough of their own context. Our custom in this volume, rather than a strict law, is that we chose the first selected publication by an author to determine the chronological order rather than, for instance, birth years, though publication date is overridden occasionally by the date of writing or, for speeches and political events, their performance or manifestation. We begin with Native American creation stories (though they were not written down until the 1800s), and conclude the volume with the person who has come to symbolize and embody the purpose and tragedy of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln. The chronology of the materials is, admittedly, awkward, with Lincoln’s first selection coming from 1838, for example; another awkwardness is that we know some of the writers, among them Whitman, Douglass, Alcott and Emerson, wrote right on past the 1865 finish line.

I am indebted to Susan L. Rattiner, my editor at Dover, for her patient and painstaking work; her guidance, corrections and suggestions have continually steadied and focused this volume.


The Cherokee Nation spanned much of today’s Southeast, from North Carolina to Georgia and into Tennessee, until the early nineteenth century, when a majority of the population was deprived of its land by the U. S. Government and forcibly relocated via The Trail of Tears to reservations in Oklahoma. The ethnographer James Mooney (1861–1921) collected the stories from 1887 to 1890 and published them in Myths of the Cherokee. It is almost certain that most of the myths . . . are but disjointed fragments of an original complete genesis and migration legend, which is now lost, writes Mooney. We have placed them first in this anthology on account of their original versions having existed previous to American English writings.

How the World Was Made (1897–1898)



a great island floating in a sea of water, and suspended at each of the four cardinal points by a cord hanging down from the sky vault, which is of solid rock. When the world grows old and worn out, the people will die and the cords will break and let the earth sink down into the ocean, and all will be water again. The Indians are afraid of this.

, Beaver’s Grandchild, the little Water-beetle, offered to go and see if it could learn. It darted in every direction over the surface of the water, but could find no firm place to rest. Then it dived to the bottom and came up with some soft mud, which began to grow and spread on every side until it became the island which we call the earth. It was afterward fastened to the sky with four cords, but no one remembers who did this.

. At last it seemed to be time, and they sent out the Buzzard and told him to go and make ready for them. This was the Great Buzzard, the father of all the buzzards we see now. He flew all over the earth, low down near the ground, and it was still soft. When he reached the Cherokee country, he was very tired, and his wings began to flap and strike the ground, and wherever they struck the earth there was a valley, and where they turned up again there was a mountain. When the animals above saw this, they were afraid that the whole world would be mountains, so they called him back, but the Cherokee country remains full of mountains to this day.

´, the Red Crawfish, had his shell scorched a bright red, so that his meat was spoiled; and the Cherokee do not eat it. The conjurers put the sun another hand-breadth higher in the air, but it was still too hot. They raised it another time, and another, until it was seven hand-breadths high and just under the sky arch. Then it was right, and they left it so. This is why the conjurers call the highest place Gûlkwâ´gine Di´gălûñ´lătiyûñ´, the seventh height, because it is seven hand-breadths above the earth. Every day the sun goes along under this arch, and returns at night on the upper side to the starting place.

There is another world under this, and it is like ours in everything—animals, plants, and people—save that the seasons are different. The streams that come down from the mountains are the trails by which we reach this underworld, and the springs at their heads are the doorways by which we enter, it, but to do this one must fast and go to water and have one of the underground people for a guide. We know that the seasons in the underworld are different from ours, because the water in the springs is always warmer in winter and cooler in summer than the outer air.

When the animals and plants were first made—we do not know by whom—they were told to watch and keep awake for seven nights, just as young men now fast and keep awake when they pray to their medicine. They tried to do this, and nearly all were awake through the first night, but the next night several dropped off to sleep, and the third night others were asleep, and then others, until, on the seventh night, of all the animals only the owl, the panther, and one or two more were still awake. To these were given the power to see and to go about in the dark, and to make prey of the birds and animals which must sleep at night. Of the trees only the cedar, the pine, the spruce, the holly, and the laurel were awake to the end, and to them it was given to be always green and to be greatest for medicine, but to the others it was said: Because you have not endured to the end you shall lose your hair every winter.

Men came after the animals and plants. At first there were only a brother and sister until he struck her with a fish and told her to multiply, and so it was. In seven days a child was born to her, and thereafter every seven days another, and they increased very fast until there was danger that the world could not keep them. Then it was made that a woman should have only one child in a year, and it has been so ever since.

The First Fire (1897–1898)



, sent their lightning and put fire into the bottom of a hollow sycamore tree which grew on an island. The animals knew it was there, because they could see the smoke coming out at the top, but they could not get to it on account of the water, so they held a council to decide what to do. This was a long time ago.

Every animal that could fly or swim was anxious to go after the fire. The Raven offered, and because he was so large and strong they thought he could surely do the work, so he was sent first. He flew high and far across the water and alighted on the sycamore tree, but while he was wondering what to do next, the heat had scorched all his feathers black, and he was frightened and came back without the fire. The little Screech-owl (Wa´huhu´) volunteered to go, and reached the place safely, but while he was looking down into the hollow tree a blast of hot air came up and nearly burned out his eves. He managed to fly home as best he could, but it was a long time before he could see well, and his eyes are red to this day. Then the Hooting Owl (U´guku´) and the Horned Owl (Tsk l ´) went, but by the time they got to the hollow tree the fire was burning so fiercely that the smoke nearly blinded them, and the ashes carried up by the wind made white rings about their eyes. They had to come home again without the fire, but with all their rubbing they were never able to get rid of the white rings.


(the Water Spider) said she would go. This is not the water spider that looks like a mosquito, but the other one, with black downy hair and red stripes on her body. She can run on top of the water or dive to the bottom, so there would be no trouble to get over to the island, but the question was, How could she bring back the fire? I’ll manage that, said the Water Spider; so she spun a thread from her body and wove it into a tusti bowl, which she fastened on her back. Then she crossed over to the island and through the grass to where the fire was still burning. She put one little coal of fire into her bowl, and came back with it, and ever since we have had fire, and the Water Spider still keeps her tusti bowl.



James Mooney. Myths of the Cherokee. Extract from the Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 1897–98, Part I. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1900.


Before the arrival of Europeans, the Native peoples of North America did not write; instead, they preserved their various histories and cultures through oral traditions. Their cultures were more diverse than those of the Europeans who began settling here in colonies in the beginning of the seventeenth century, and the immigrants became impressed by the rhetorical sophistication and beauty of Native spokesmen (there are few instances before the twentieth century of Native women making speeches).

Powhatan (c. 1547–1618), also known as Wahunsonacock, was the head of an Algonquian confederacy that spanned hundreds of miles and thirty-two tribes. (He is well-known today because of his favorite daughter, Pocahontas, who rescued the English captain John Smith from execution in 1608.) In 1607 Powhatan’s confederacy allowed the English to establish their first colony at Jamestown, Virginia. In 1609, when the same Captain Smith, dissatisfied with trade negotiations, resorted to bluster and threats, Powhatan made the following reply.

Why Should You Destroy Us, Who Have Provided You with Food? (c. 1609)



grown old, and must soon die; and the succession must descend, in order, to my brothers, Opitchapan, Opekankanough, and Catataugh, and then to my two sisters, and their two daughters. I wish their experience was equal to mine; and that your love to us might not be less than ours to you. Why should you take by force that from us which you can have by love? Why should you destroy us, who have provided you with food? What can you get by war? We can hide our provisions, and fly into the woods; and then you must consequently famish by wronging your friends. What is the cause of your jealousy? You see us unarmed, and willing to supply your wants, if you will come in a friendly manner, and not with swords and guns, as to invade an enemy. I am not so simple, as not to know it is better to eat good meat, lie well, and sleep quietly with my women and children; to laugh and be merry with the English; and, being their friend, to have copper, hatchets, and whatever else I want, than to fly from all, to lie cold in the woods, feed upon acorns, roots, and such trash, and to be so hunted, that I cannot rest, eat, or sleep. In such circumstances, my men must watch, and if a twig should but break, all would cry out, "Here comes Captain Smith"; and so, in this miserable manner, to end my miserable life; and, Captain Smith, this might be soon your fate too, through your rashness and unadvisedness. I, therefore, exhort you to peaceable councils; and, above all, I insist that the guns and swords, the cause of all our jealousy and uneasiness, be removed and sent away.



Samuel G. Drake. Biography and History of the Indians of North America, from Its First Discovery. 11th edition. Boston: Benjamin B. Mussey and Company, 1851.


Anne Bradstreet (1612–1672) composed the first published book of verse written in America, The Tenth Muse, Lately Sprung Up in America (1650). Born in England, educated by tutors, she married and moved with her husband and parents to the New World. Her father became the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony as, later, so did her husband. She addresses her book in the introductory poem as if it were one of her several children snatcht from her and expos’d to public view. The plain-spokenness of her love for her family and husband diminishes her temporal distance from us, and her poems of mourning are as wise as the ages. We have maintained the fitful capitalization and punctuation as rendered in Robert Hutchinson’s excellent edition of Bradstreet’s work.

The Author to her Book (1650)

Thou ill-form’d offspring of my feeble brain,

Who after birth did’st by my side remain,

Till snatcht from thence by friends, less wise than true,

Who thee abroad expos’d to publick view;

Made thee in raggs, halting to th’ press to trudg,

Where errors were not lessened (all may judg).

At thy return my blushing was not small,

My rambling brat (in print) should mother call.

I cast thee by as one unfit for light,

Thy Visage was so irksome in my sight;

Yet being mine own, at length affection would

Thy blemishes amend, if so I could:

I wash’d thy face, but more defects I saw,

And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.

I stretcht thy joynts to make thee even feet,

Yet still thou run’st more hobling than is meet;

In better dress to trim thee was my mind,

But nought save home-spun Cloth, i’th’ house I find.

In this array, ’mongst Vulgars mayst thou roam.

In Criticks hands, beware thou dost not come;

And take thy way where yet thou art not known.

If for thy Father askt, say, thou hadst none:

And for thy Mother, she alas is poor,

Which caus’d her thus to send thee out of door.

To my Dear and loving Husband (1650)

If ever two were one, then surely we.

If ever man were lov’d by wife, then thee;

If ever wife was happy in a man,

Compare with me ye women if you can.

I prize thy love more than whole Mines of gold,

Or all the riches that the East doth hold.

My love is such that Rivers cannot quench,

Nor ought but love from thee, give recompence.

Thy love is such I can no way repay,

The heavens reward thee manifold I pray.

Then while we live, in love lets so persever,

That when we live no more, we may live ever.

Before the Birth of one of her Children (1650)

All things within this fading world hath end,

Adversity doth still our joyes attend;

No tyes so strong, no friends so dear and sweet,

But with deaths parting blow is sure to meet.

The sentence past is most irrevocable,

A common thing, yet oh inevitable;

How soon, my Dear, death may my steps attend,

How soon’t may be thy Lot to lose thy friend,

We both are ignorant, yet love bids me

These farewell lines to recommend to thee,

That when that knot’s unty’d that made us one,

I may seem thine, who in effect am none.

And if I see not half my dayes that’s due,

What nature would, God grant to yours and you;

The many faults that well you know I have,

Let be interr’d in my oblivious grave;

If any worth or virtue were in me,

Let that live freshly in thy memory

And when thou feel’st no grief, as I no harms,

Yet love thy dead, who long lay in thine arms:

And when thy loss shall be repaid with gains

Look to my little babes my dear remains.

And if thou love thy self, or loved’st me

These O protect from step Dames injury.

And if chance to thine eyes shall bring this verse,

With some sad sighs honour my absent Herse;

And kiss this paper for thy loves dear sake,

Who with salt tears this last Farewel did take.

Upon a Fit of Sickness, Anno. 1632. Aetatis suae, 19 (1650)

Twice ten years old, not fully told

Since nature gave me breath,

My race is run, my thread is spun,

lo here is fatal Death.

All men must dye, and so must I

this cannot be revok’d

For Adams sake, this word God spake

when he so high provok’d.

Yet live I shall, this life’s but small,

in place of highest bliss,

Where I shall have all I can crave,

no life is like to this.

For what’s this life, but care and strife?

since first we came from womb,

Our strength doth waste, our time doth hast,

and then we go to th’ Tomb.

O Bubble blast, how long can’st last?

that alwayes art a breaking,

No sooner blown, but dead and gone,

ev’n as a word that’s speaking.

O whil’st I live, this grace me give,

I doing good may be,

Then deaths arrest I shall count best,

because it’s thy decree;

Bestow much cost there’s nothing lost,

to make Salvation sure,

O great’s the gain, though got with pain,

comes by profession pure.

The race is run, the field is won,

the victory’s mine I see,

For ever known, thou envious foe,

the foyle belongs to thee.

To the Memory of my dear and ever honoured Father Thomas Dudley Esq; Who deceased, July 31. 1653. and of his Age, 77 (1650)

By duty bound, and not by custome led

To celebrate the praises of the dead,

My mournfull mind, sore prest, in trembling verse

Presents my Lamentations at his Herse,

Who was my Father, Guide, Instructer too,

To whom I ought whatever I could doe:

Nor is’t Relation near my hand shall tye;

For who more cause to boast his worth than I?

Who heard or saw, observ’d or knew him better?

Or who alive than I, a greater debtor?

Let malice bite, and envy knaw its fill,

He was my Father, and Ile praise him still.

Nor was his name, or life lead so obscure

That pitty might some Trumpeters procure,

Who after death might make him falsly seem

Such as in life, no man could justly deem.

Well known and lov’d, where ere he liv’d, by most

Both in his native, and in foreign coast,

These to the world his merits could make known,

So needs no Testimonial from his own;

But now or never I must pay my Sum;

While others tell his worth, I’le not be dumb:

One of thy Founders, him New-England know,

Who staid thy feeble sides when thou wast low,

Who spent his state, his strength, and years with care

That After-comers in them might have share.

True Patriot of this little Commonweal,

Who is’t can tax thee ought, but for thy zeal?

Truths friend thou wert, to errors still a foe,

Which caus’d Apostates to maligne so.

Thy love to true Religion e’re shall shine,

My Fathers God, be God of me and mine.

Upon the earth he did not build his nest,

But as a Pilgrim, what he had, possest.

High thoughts he gave no harbour in his heart,

Nor honours pufft him up, when he had part:

Those titles loath’d, which some too much do love

For truly his ambition lay above.

His humble mind so lov’d humility,

He left it to his race for Legacy:

And oft and oft, with speeches mild and wise,

Gave his in charge, that Jewel rich to prize.

No ostentation seen in all his wayes,

As in the mean ones, of our foolish dayes,

Which all they have, and more still set to view,

Their greatness may be judg’d by what they shew.

His thoughts were more sublime, his actions wise,

Such vanityes he justly did despise.

Nor wonder ’twas, low things ne’r much did move

For he a Mansion had, prepar’d above,

For which he sigh’d and pray’d and long’d full sore

He might be cloath’d upon, for evermore.

Oft spake of death, and with a smiling chear,

He did exult his end was drawing near,

Now fully ripe, as shock of wheat that’s grown,

Death as a Sickle hath him timely mown,

And in celestial Barn hath hous’d him high,

Where storms, nor showrs, nor ought can damnifie.

His Generation serv’d, his labours cease;

And to his Fathers gathered is in peace.

Ah happy Soul, ’mongst Saints and Angels blest,

Who after all his toyle, is now at rest:

His hoary head in righteousness was found:

As joy in heaven on earth let praise resound.

Forgotten never be his memory,

His blessing rest on his posterity:

His pious Footsteps followed by his race,

At last will bring us to that happy place

Where we with joy each others face shall see,

And parted more by death shall never be.

His Epitaph

Within this Tomb a Patriot lyes

That was both pious, just and wise,

To Truth a shield, to right a Wall,

To Sectaryes a whip and Maul,

A Magazine of History,

A Prizer of good Company

In manners pleasant and severe

The Good him lov’d, the bad did fear,

And when his time with years was spent

If some rejoyc’d, more did lament.

In memory of my dear grand-child Anne Bradstreet. Who deceased June 20. 1669. being three years and seven Moneths old (1650)

With troubled heart and trembling hand I write,

The Heavens have chang’d to sorrow my delight.

How oft with disappointment have I met,

When I on fading things my hopes have set?

Experience might ’fore this have made me wise,

To value things according to their price:

Was ever stable joy yet found below,

Or perfect bliss without mixture of woe?

I knew she was but as a withering flour,

That’s here to day, perhaps gone in an hour;

Like as a bubble, or the brittle glass,

Or like a shadow turning as it was.

More fool then I to look on that was lent,

As if mine own, when thus impermanent.

Farewel dear child, thou ne’re shall come to me,

But yet a while, and I shall go to thee;

Mean time my throbbing heart’s chear’d up with this

Thou with thy Saviour art in endless bliss.

To my Dear Children (1650)

This book by Any yet unread,

I leave for you when I am dead,

That, being gone, here you may find

What was your liveing mother’s mind.

Make use of what I leave in Love

And God shall blesse you from above.

In my Solitary houres in my dear husband his Absence (1650)

O Lord, thou hear’st my dayly moan,

And see’st my dropping teares:

My Troubles All are Thee before,

My Longings and my feares.

Thou hetherto hast been my God;

Thy help my soul hath found:

Tho’ losse and sicknes me assail’d,

Thro’ thee I’ve kept my Ground.

And thy Abode tho’st made with me;

With Thee my Soul can talk

In secrett places, Thee I find,

Where I doe kneel or walk.

Tho’ husband dear bee from me gone,

Whom I doe love so well;

I have a more beloved one

Whose comforts far excell.

O stay my heart on thee, my God,

Uphold my fainting Soul!

And, when I know not what to doe,

I’ll on thy mercyes roll.

My weaknes, thou do’st know full well,

Of Body and of mind.

I, in this world, no comfort have,

But what from Thee I find.

Tho’ children thou hast given me,

And freinds I have also:

Yet, if I see Thee not thro’ them,

They are no Joy, but woe.

O shine upon me, blessed Lord,

Ev’n for my Saviour’s sake;

In Thee alone is more than All,

And there content I’ll take.

O hear me, Lord, in this Request,

As thou before ha’st done:

Bring back my husband, I beseech,

As thou didst once my Sonne.

So shall I celebrate thy Praise,

Ev’n while my Dayes shall last;

And talk to my Beloved one

Of all thy Goodnes past.

So both of us thy Kindnes, Lord,

With Praises shall recount,

And serve Thee better than before,

Whose Blessings thus surmount.

But give me, Lord, a better heart,

Then better shall I bee,

To pay the vowes which I doe owe

For ever unto Thee.

Unlesse thou help, what can I doe

But still my frailty show?

If thou assist me, Lord, I shall

Return Thee what I owe.

As weary pilgrim, now at rest (1650)

As weary pilgrim, now at rest,

Hugs with delight his silent nest

His wasted limbes, now lye full soft

That myrie steps, have troden oft

Blesses himself, to think upon

his dangers past, and travailes done

The burning sun no more shall heat

Nor stormy raines, on him shall beat.

The bryars and thornes no more shall scratch

nor hungry wolves at him shall catch

He erring pathes no more shall tread

nor wild fruits eate, in stead of bread,

for waters cold he doth not long

for thirst no more shall parch his tongue

No rugged stones his feet shall gaule

nor stumps nor rocks cause him to fall

All cares and feares, he bids farwell

and meanes in safity now to dwell.

A pilgrim I, on earth, perplext

with sinns with cares and sorrows vext

By age and paines brought to decay

and my Clay house mouldring away

Oh how I long to be at rest

and soare on high among the blest.

This body shall in silence sleep

Mine eyes no more shall ever weep

No fainting fits shall me assaile

nor grinding paines my body fraile

With cares and fears ne’r cumbred be

Nor losses know, nor sorrowes see

What tho my flesh shall there consume

it is the bed Christ did perfume

And when a few yeares shall be gone

this mortall shall be cloth’d upon

A Corrupt Carcasse downe it lyes

a glorious body it shall rise

In weaknes and dishonour sowne

in power ’tis rais’d by Christ alone

Then soule and body shall unite

and of their maker have the sight

Such lasting joyes shall there behold

as eare ne’r heard nor tongue e’er told

Lord make me ready for that day

then Come deare bridgrome Come away.

The Prologue [to The Tenth Muse] (1650)


To sing of Wars, of Captains, and of Kings,

Of Cities founded, Common-wealths begun,

For my mean pen are too superiour things:

Or how they all, or each their dates have run

Let Poets and Historians set these forth,

My obscure Lines shall not so dim their worth.


But when my wondring eyes and envious heart

Great Bartas sugar’d lines, do but read o’re

Fool I do grudg the Muses did not part

’Twixt him and me that overfluent store;

A Bartas can, do what a Bartas will

But simple I according to my skill.


From school-boyes tongue no rhet’rick we expect

Nor yet a sweet Consort from broken strings,

Nor perfect beauty, where’s a main defect:

My foolish, broken, blemish’d Muse so sings

And this to mend, alas, no Art is able,

’Cause nature, made it so irreparable.


Nor can I, like that fluent sweet-tongu’d Greek,

Who lisp’d at first, in future times speak plain

By Art he gladly found what he did seek

A full requital of his striving paine:

Art can do much, but this maxime’s most sure

A weak or wounded brain admits no cure.


I am obnoxious to each carping tongue

Who says my hand a needle better fits,

A Poets pen all scorn I should thus wrong,

For such despite they cast on Female wits:

If what I do prove well, it won’t advance,

They’ll say it’s stoln, or else it was by chance.


But sure the Antique Greeks were far more mild

Else of our Sexe, why feigned they those Nine

And poesy made, Calliope’s own Child;

So ’mongst the rest they placed the Arts Divine,

But this weak knot, they will full soon untie,

The Greeks did nought, but play the fools and lye.


Let Greeks be Greeks, and women what they are

Men have precedency and still excell,

It is but vain unjustly to wage warre;

Men can do best, and women know it well

Preheminence in all and each is yours;

Yet grant some small acknowledgement of ours.


And oh ye high flown quills that soar the Skies,

And ever with your prey still catch your praise,

If e’re you daigne these lowly lines your eyes

Give Thyme or Parsley wreath, I ask no bayes,

This mean and unrefined ure of mine

Will make your glistering gold but more to shine.



Anne Bradstreet. To My Husband and Other Poems. Edited by Robert Hutchinson. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 2000.


The most interesting American who ever lived was born in 1706 and died in 1790. The Boston-born son of a tallow chandler had two years of schooling and a few years of apprenticeship under his older brother’s stern watch before he fled New England at age seventeen and found himself almost penniless and yet ever resourceful in Philadelphia. He became a printer, writer, businessman, community activist, militiaman, scientist, diplomat and philosopher, as well as a family man, philanderer and social animal. Though extraordinary, our most famous and respected citizen was regarded in Europe as America’s representative man. As much as any American, he helped develop the idea of American as a national identity, and through his official and unofficial diplomacy in the 1750s and ’60s tried to bring about colonial compromise with England before he became the budding Revolution’s most eloquent and important spokesman.

An Apology for Printers (1731)

In this first selection, from a Philadelphia newspaper, we see Franklin’s teasing and testy defense of freedom of speech.



and condemn’d by different Persons for printing Things which they say ought not to be printed, I have sometimes thought it might be necessary to make a standing Apology for my self, and publish it once a Year, to be read upon all Occasions of that Nature. Much Business has hitherto hindered the execution of this Design; but having very lately given extraordinary Offence by printing an Advertisement with a certain N.B. at the End of it, I find an Apology more particularly requisite at this Juncture, tho’ it happens when I have not yet Leisure to write such a thing in the proper Form, and can only in a loose manner throw those Considerations together which should have been the Substance of it.

I request all who are angry with me on the Account of printing things they don’t like, calmly to consider these following Particulars:

1. That the Opinions of Men are almost as various as their Faces; an Observation general enough to become a common Proverb, So many Men so many Minds.

2. That the Business of Printing has chiefly to do with Mens Opinions; most things that are printed tending to promote some, or oppose others.

3. That hence arises the peculiar Unhappiness of that Business, which other Callings are no way liable to; they who follow Printing being scarce able to do any thing in their way of getting a Living, which shall not probably give Offence to some, and perhaps to many; whereas the Smith, the Shoemaker, the Carpenter, or the Man of any other Trade, may work indifferently for People of all Persuasions, without offending any of them: and the Merchant may buy and sell with Jews, Turks, Hereticks, and Infidels of all sorts, and get Money by every one of them, without giving Offence to the most orthodox, of any sort; or suffering the least Censure or Ill-will on the Account from any Man whatever.

4. That it is as unreasonable in any one Man or Set of Men to expect to be pleas’d with every thing that is printed, as to think that nobody ought to be pleas’d but themselves.

5. Printers are educated in the Belief, that when Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick; and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter: Hence they chearfully serve all contending Writers that pay them well, without regarding on which side they are of the Question in Dispute.

6. Being thus continually employ’d in serving all Parties, Printers naturally acquire a vast Unconcernedness as to the right or wrong Opinions contain’d in what they print; regarding it only as the Matter of their daily labour: They print things full of Spleen and Animosity, with the utmost Calmness and Indifference, and without the least Ill-will to the Persons reflected on; who nevertheless unjustly think the Printer as much their Enemy as the Author, and join both together in their Resentment.

7. That it is unreasonable to imagine Printers approve of every thing they print, and to censure them on any particular thing accordingly; since in the way of their Business they print such great variety of things opposite and contradictory. It is likewise as unreasonable what some assert, That Printers ought not to print any Thing but what they approve; since if all of that Business should make such a Resolution, and abide by it, an End would thereby be put to Free Writing, and the World would afterwards have nothing to read but what happen’d to be the Opinions of Printers.

8. That if all Printers were determin’d not to print any thing till they were sure it would offend no body, there would be very little printed.

9. That if they sometimes print vicious or silly things not worth reading, it may not be because they approve such things themselves, but because the People are so viciously and corruptly educated that good things are not encouraged. I have known a very numerous Impression of Robin Hood’s Songs go off in this Province at 2s. per Book, in less than a Twelvemonth; when a small Quantity of David’s Psalms (an excellent Version) have lain upon my Hands above twice the Time.

10. That notwithstanding what might be urg’d in behalf of a Man’s being allow’d to do in the Way of his Business whatever he is paid for, yet Printers do continually discourage the Printing of great Numbers of bad things, and stifle them in the Birth. I my self have constantly refused to print any thing that might countenance Vice, or promote Immorality; tho’ by complying in such Cases with the corrupt Taste of the Majority, I might have got much Money. I have also always refus’d to print such things as might do real Injury to any Person, how much soever I have been solicited, and tempted with Offers of great Pay; and how much soever I have by refusing got the Ill-will of those who would have employ’d me. I have heretofore fallen under the Resentment of large Bodies of Men, for refusing absolutely to print any of their Party or Personal Reflections. In this Manner I have made my self many Enemies, and the constant Fatigue of denying is almost insupportable. But the Publick being unacquainted with all this, whenever the poor Printer happens either through Ignorance or much Persuasion, to do any thing that is generally thought worthy of Blame, he meets with no more Friendship or Favour on the above Account, than if there were no Merit in’t at all. Thus, as Waller says,

Poets loose half the Praise they would have got Were it but known what they discreetly blot;

Yet are censur’d for every bad Line found in their Works with the utmost Severity.

I come now to the particular Case of the N.B. above-mention’d, about which there has been more Clamour against me, than ever before on any other Account.—In the Hurry of other Business an Advertisement was brought to me to be printed; it signified that such a Ship lying at such a Wharff, would sail for Barbadoes in such a Time, and that Freighters and Passengers might agree with the Captain at such a Place; so far is what’s common: But at the Bottom this odd Thing was added, N.B. No Sea Hens nor Black Gowns will be admitted on any Terms. I printed it, and receiv’d my Money; and the Advertisement was stuck up round the Town as usual. I had not so much Curiosity at that time as to enquire the Meaning of it, nor did I in the least imagine it would give so much Offence. Several good Men are very angry with me on this Occasion; they are pleas’d to say I have too much Sense to do such things ignorantly; that if they were Printers they would not have done such a thing on any Consideration; that it could proceed from nothing but my abundant Malice against Religion and the Clergy: They therefore declare they will not take any more of my Papers, nor have any farther Dealings with me; but will hinder me of all the Custom they can. All this is very hard!

I believe it had been better if I had refused to print the said Advertisement. However, ’tis done and cannot be revok’d. I have only the following few Particulars to offer, some of them in my Behalf, by way of Mitigation, and some not much to the Purpose; but I desire none of them may be read when the Reader is not in a very good Humour.

1. That I really did it without the least Malice, and imagin’d the N.B. was plac’d there only to make the Advertisement star’d at, and more generally read.

2. That I never saw the Word Sea-Hens before in my Life; nor have I yet ask’d the meaning of it; and tho’ I had certainly known that Black Gowns in that Place signified the Clergy of the Church of England, yet I have that confidence in the generous good Temper of such of them as I know, as to be well satisfied such a trifling mention of their Habit gives them no Disturbance.

3. That most of the Clergy in this and the neighbouring Provinces, are my Customers, and some of them my very good Friends; and I must be very malicious indeed, or very stupid, to print this thing for a small Profit, if I had thought it would have given them just Cause of Offence.

4. That if I have much Malice against the Clergy, and withal much Sense; ’tis strange I never write or talk against the Clergy my self. Some have observed that ’tis a fruitful Topic, and the easiest to be witty upon of all others. I can print any thing I write at less Charge than others; yet I appeal to the Publick that I am never guilty this way, and to all my Acquaintance as to my Conversation.

5. That if a Man of Sense had Malice enough to desire to injure the Clergy, this is the foolishest Thing he could possibly contrive for that Purpose.

6. That I got Five Shillings by it.

7. That none who are angry with me would have given me so much to let it alone.

8. That if all the People of different Opinions in this Province would engage to give me as much for not printing things they don’t like, as I can get by printing them, I should probably live a very easy Life; and if all Printers were every where so dealt by, there would be very little printed.

9. That I am oblig’d to all who take my Paper, and am willing to think they do it out of meer Friendship. I only desire they would think the same when I deal with them. I thank those who leave off, that they have taken it so long. But I beg they would not endeavour to dissuade others, for that will look like Malice.

10. That ’tis impossible any Man should know what he would do if he was a Printer.

11. That notwithstanding the Rashness and Inexperience of Youth, which is most likely to be prevail’d with to do things that ought not to be done; yet I have avoided printing such Things as usually give Offence either to Church or State, more than any Printer that has followed the Business in this Province before.

12. And lastly, That I have printed above a Thousand Advertisements which made not the least mention of Sea-Hens or Black Gowns; and this being the first Offence, I have the more Reason to expect Forgiveness.

I take leave to conclude with an old Fable, which some of my Readers have heard before, and some have not.

A certain well-meaning Man and his Son, were travelling towards a Market Town, with an Ass which they had to sell. The Road was bad; and the old Man therefore rid, but the Son went a-foot. The first Passenger they met, asked the Father if he was not ashamed to ride by himself, and suffer the poor Lad to wade along thro’ the Mire; this induced him to take up his Son behind him: He had not travelled far, when he met others, who said, they were two unmerciful Lubbers to get both on the Back of that poor Ass, in such a deep Road. Upon this the old Man gets off, and let his Son ride alone. The next they met called the Lad a graceless, rascally young Jackanapes, to ride in that Manner thro’ the Dirt, while his aged Father trudged along on Foot; and they said the old Man was a Fool, for suffering it. He then bid his Son come down, and walk with him, and they travell’d on leading the Ass by the Halter; ’till they met another Company, who called them a Couple of sensless Blockheads, for going both on Foot in such a dirty Way, when they had an empty Ass with them, which they might ride upon. The old Man could bear no longer; My Son, said he, it grieves me much that we cannot please all these People; Let us throw the Ass over the next Bridge, and be no farther troubled with him.

Had the old Man been seen acting this last Resolution, he would probably have been call’d a Fool for troubling himself about the different Opinions of all that were pleas’d to find Fault with him: Therefore, tho’ I have a Temper almost as complying as his, I intend not to imitate him in this last Particular. I consider the Variety of Humours among Men, and despair of pleasing every Body; yet I shall not therefore leave off Printing. I shall continue my Business. I shall not burn my Press and melt my Letters.

The Pennsylvania Gazette (June 10, 1731)

Poor Richard’s Almanack

After a preface by Franklin, which we have excerpted from the posthumously published Part 3 of his Autobiography, we share a selection of several dozen of Poor Richard’s sayings. Franklin, writing in the character of Poor Richard, derived and recomposed his sayings from many sources, among them religious texts, folk wisdom and proverbs. In his bestselling annual publication, Poor Richard’s Almanack, Franklin filled all the little Spaces that occurr’d between the Remarkable Days in the Calendar, with Proverbial Sentences. They became a basis for what we think of as characteristic American practical philosophy.



1732 I first published my Almanack, under the Name of Richard Saunders; it was continu’d by me about 25 Years, commonly call’d Poor Richard’s Almanack. I endeavor’d to make it both entertaining and useful, and it accordingly came to be in such Demand that I reap’d considerable Profit from it, vending annually near ten Thousand. And observing that it was generally read, scarce any Neighborhood in the Province being without it, I consider’d it as a proper Vehicle for conveying Instruction among the common People, who bought scarce any other Books. I therefore filled all the little Spaces that occurr’d between the Remarkable Days in the Calendar, with Proverbial Sentences, chiefly such as inculcated Industry and Frugality, as the Means of procuring Wealth and thereby securing Virtue, it being more difficult for a Man in Want to act always honestly, as (to use here one of those Proverbs) it is hard for an empty Sack to stand upright. These Proverbs, which contained the Wisdom of many Ages and Nations, I assembled and form’d into a connected Discourse prefix’d to the Almanack of 1757, as the Harangue of a wise old Man to the People attending an Auction. The bringing all these scatter’d Counsels thus into a Focus, enabled them to make greater Impression. The Piece being universally approved was copied in all the Newspapers of the Continent, reprinted in Britain on a Broadside to be stuck up in Houses, two Translations were made of it in French, and great Numbers bought by the Clergy & Gentry to distribute gratis among their poor Parishioners and Tenants. In Pennsylvania, as it discouraged useless Expense in foreign Superfluities, some thought, it had its share of Influence in producing that growing Plenty of Money which was observable for several Years after its Publication.


The poor have little, beggars none, the rich too much, enough not one.

God works wonders now & then;

Behold! a Lawyer, an honest Man!

Beware of the young Doctor & the old Barber.

Nothing more like a Fool, than a drunken Man.

Great Talkers, little Doers.

Hunger never saw bad bread.

A good Wife lost is God’s gift lost.


He does not possess Wealth, it possesses him.

Better slip with foot than tongue.

He that knows nothing of it, may by chance be a Prophet; while the wisest that is may happen to miss.

No man e’er was glorious, who was not laborious.

Laws like to Cobwebs catch small Flies,

Great ones break thro’ before your eyes.

Where there’s Marriage without Love, there will be Love without Marriage.

If you wou’d have Guests merry with your cheer,

Be so your self, or so at least appear.

There have been as great Souls unknown to fame as any of the most famous.

Take this remark from Richard poor and lame,

Whate’er’s begun in anger ends in shame.

A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one.


A lie stands on one leg, truth on two.

To be humble to Superiors is Duty, to Equals Courtesy, to Inferiors Nobleness.

A man is never so ridiculous by those Qualities that are his own as by those that he affects to have.

Necessity never made a good bargain.

Approve not of him who commends all you say.

Sal laughs at every thing you say. Why? Because she has fine Teeth.

Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.


None preaches better than the ant, and she says nothing.

Do not do that which you would not have known.

Wealth is not his that has it, but his that enjoys it.

Fish & Visitors stink in 3 days.

The absent are never without fault, nor the present without excuse.

Creditors have better memories than debtors.

Lovers, Travellers, and Poets, will give money to be heard.

He that speaks much, is much mistaken.

’Tis easy to see, hard to foresee.

Diligence is the Mother of Good-Luck.


The greatest monarch on the proudest throne, is oblig’d to sit upon his own arse.

Don’t go to the doctor with every distemper, nor to the lawyer with every quarrel, nor to the pot for every thirst.

Well done is better than well said.

He that can compose himself, is wiser than he that composes books.


There are three faithful friends, an old wife, an old dog, and ready money.

Eat to please thyself, but dress to please others.

Buy what thou hast no need of; and e’er long thou shalt sell thy necessaries.

As we must account for every idle word, so we must for every idle silence.

If you do what you would not, you must hear what you would not.

You may be more happy than Princes, if you will be more virtuous.

Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.

None but the well-bred man knows how to confess a fault, or acknowledge himself in an error.

Each year one vicious habit rooted out, In time might make the worst Man good throughout.¹

Since I cannot govern my own tongue, tho’ within my own teeth, how

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